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January 25, 2005 5:04 PM   Subscribe

The Dictators. Even in this age of crate-digger archaeology, especially when it comes to the roots of punk rock, this band of Bronx miscreants is little known except to cognoscenti. The stream of punk most identified with The Ramones (unapologetically crude three-minute pop singles, pop culture obsessed, based around fun, what Tom Carson called "deadly serious kidding") began with these guys first three albums and lives on in the work of The Muffs, Nashville Pussy, The Supersuckers and countless others. A rock and roll treasure often overlooked.
posted by jonmc (31 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
crate-digger archaeology

?
posted by rushmc at 5:19 PM on January 25, 2005


crate-digger=guys who dig through crates in used record stores looking for obscure records. The archaelogy part refers to the tendency of music geeks to look for undiscovered artifacts that point towrd future trends.

/pedant
posted by jonmc at 5:21 PM on January 25, 2005


undiscovered artifacts that point towrd future trends.

...and these guys definitely qualify. I'd venture that they're the missing link between 70's butt-rock and punk to come.
posted by jonmc at 5:23 PM on January 25, 2005


Johnny Ramone was a Bush-lover.
posted by VP_Admin at 5:44 PM on January 25, 2005


I know. This thread is not about the Ramones.
posted by jonmc at 5:46 PM on January 25, 2005


Even in this age of crate-digger archaeology, especially when it comes to the roots of punk rock, this band of Bronx miscreants is little known except to cognoscenti.

And those who have drunk at Handsome Dick's bar in New York.
posted by liam at 5:47 PM on January 25, 2005


crate-digger=guys who dig through crates in used record stores looking for obscure records. The archaelogy part refers to the tendency of music geeks to look for undiscovered artifacts that point towrd future trends.

Ah, gotcha! Carry on.
posted by rushmc at 6:00 PM on January 25, 2005


Carry on.

Which was the title the best song by Dictators' guitarist Ross The Boss's post-Dictators metal band Manowar.

Yes, I'm a geek. A dork, even.
posted by jonmc at 6:18 PM on January 25, 2005


No, Blood of My Enemies.
posted by Wolfdog at 6:29 PM on January 25, 2005


For me, these guys are hopelessly tainted by their association with 1) Professional wrestling, and 2) That most pretentious wanker of a rock critic ever, Richard Meltzer.

It is sacrilege to speak of them in the same breath as the Ramones ;)
posted by JeffL at 6:40 PM on January 25, 2005


JeffL, I'm not a big fan of Metzler, either. But if you can't appreciate the goofball drama of pro wrestling, then perhaps you've missed the point of the Ramones. And, say what you will, the Ramones whole persona was done by these guys first.;)
posted by jonmc at 6:43 PM on January 25, 2005


To me, there's taint as well from recently forcing the musical act Manitoba to change their name to Caribou due to US trademark laws on Handsome Dick's last name.

The few Dictators' tunes I've heard sound ok fine, though. But the association remains.
posted by myopicman at 6:47 PM on January 25, 2005 [1 favorite]


Jonmc, I do see your point, I suppose, but I just have a real aversion to pro wrestling. As a big Husker Du fan in the early-to-mid- 80's, I remember being extremely shocked years ago when I read that Bob Mould was into pro wrestling. :)

Also, the Dictators might have released their first album a year before the Ramones, but I don't know if they actually formed their band and established their "persona" before the Ramones (or Richard Hell, etc.)

Plus, the first Dictators record came out on Epic, instead of the much cooler Sire...
posted by JeffL at 7:04 PM on January 25, 2005


According to this punk rock timeline, the Dictators formed in '73. This page lists the first Ramones rehearsal as January 27, 1974 (you gotta love the specificity of that), and doesn't mention the Dictators at all...
posted by JeffL at 7:17 PM on January 25, 2005


JeffL, make no mistake, I'm a huge Ramones fan, but recorded evidence (and your timeline) dosen't lie. These guys were pioneers. And stuff like record labels and the copyright thing are interesting, to be sure, but ultimately my judgement on any band is based on whats in the grooves.

As for the pro wrestling thing, once you start looking at it as theatre rather than a sport, it becomes a lot more fun.
posted by jonmc at 7:21 PM on January 25, 2005


Jonmc, I was just kidding around about the Epic vs. Sire thing, of course.

I suppose I'll have to give these guys a listen again, after many years, and re-evaluate.
posted by JeffL at 7:32 PM on January 25, 2005


For every phoney little wanna be
Careering in the industry
Shove some product up your marketing degree
cause it ain't rock and roll to me

I'm gonna rock
we're gonna rock
testosterone rock
respect the rock

posted by Smart Dalek at 7:35 PM on January 25, 2005


The Dictators were great ! I haven't listened to them in along time, though, as I don't play many records any more - I should buy some CD re-issues. Creem used to have something about them just about every month.

To me they had the punk attitude, but their music was more metal than punk - the Ramones were more innovative musically.

I always thought the resurgence of punk started with the Stooges and the New York Dolls, though.
posted by rfs at 7:48 PM on January 25, 2005


I always thought the resurgence of punk started with the Stooges and the New York Dolls, though.

That'd just be 'the surgence' wouldn't it? Then again, that wouldn't make a whole lot of sense, I guess.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:19 PM on January 25, 2005


"They're all goin' under the thunda' of MANITOBAAAAAAA!!!!"

"I got Jackie Onasis in my pants" ....classic...classic stuff.

Great post Jonmc. DICTATORS RULED! Not only were they one of the seminole punk/rock bands of the day but their music actually had some substance to it. That is to say, each song could stand on it's own, each one had an indentity. and rfs, c'mon...the Ramones were more innovative? Big ups on the Dolls and Stooges though!!

I understand one or two of the guys from the band bought a bar in the Village.
posted by j.p. Hung at 8:36 PM on January 25, 2005


JeffL, some great links and good points but please....don't mention the Ramones and Dictators in the same breath? (oh hell, I just did it) I'll give the Ramones their due but from a musical standpoint, the Dictators had far more to offer the scene at the time (ah! I did it again). I know it's a tough thing to quantify because there was sometimes a cavernous difference between the bands that influenced the movement and the bands that influenced the players.
posted by j.p. Hung at 8:49 PM on January 25, 2005


2) That most pretentious wanker of a rock critic ever, Richard Meltzer.

Meltzer's The Aesthetics of Rock is a masterpiece of incomprehensibility. I read the entire thing without once thinking I had any idea what he was on about.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 9:05 PM on January 25, 2005


One of the Dictators ended up in Twisted Sister, I believe. Which makes sense- they we're really dumb in a smart way, which could easily lead to dumb in a commercial way.
posted by bendybendy at 4:05 AM on January 26, 2005


their version of "i got you babe" isn't to be missed ... their first album is a classic
posted by pyramid termite at 5:03 AM on January 26, 2005


The Muffs and the Supersuckers are on my list of favorite concerts. "Fun" is the first word to come to mind.
posted by Shane at 6:42 AM on January 26, 2005


Best piano break EVER: the little tinkle in the Dictators' "Teengenerate."
posted by scratch at 7:04 AM on January 26, 2005


Played a few shows with them a couple of years ago in Ottawa and Montreal, and I was actually quite surprised how good they still were. Handsome Dick does seem kinda bitter, but overall they were pretty cool. They really don't hold a candle to Da Brothers - but who does? And anyway that's not what this thread is about.
posted by stinkycheese at 7:09 AM on January 26, 2005


stavrosthewonderchicken :

I said resurgence because to me punk rock originally started with bands like those on Nuggets in the mid 60's.

I guess my copy of Nuggets is extra cool because it's the Sire re-issue from about 1976 ...
posted by rfs at 9:12 AM on January 26, 2005


The Dictators were great, but the Dolls were sublime (no matter how much of a jerkoff Johansen has become since then). Plus they got there first.
posted by languagehat at 9:56 AM on January 26, 2005


ah punk, that fucking anachronism
posted by nanojath at 7:56 PM on February 24, 2005


foiled
posted by seanyboy at 3:55 AM on February 25, 2005


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